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Strength Training

  • Add 50 Lbs To Your 1 Hand Deadlift

    I know. This sounds like one of those Joe Weedy-man ads that is too good to

    Finger Lift Ring
    Finger Lift Ring: Open Middle Finger

    be true. All I am going to do is tell you how I did it. It was amazingly simple.

    I decided that improving my One Hand Barbell Deadlift would improve all my other lifts. You see, if your grip is your weak point, it can throw off all the other body position angles in full body lifts. I could also aim for an American Record, by adding about 50 pounds. Thus I had a goal and an underlying reason for that goal.

    First, I looked at my current grip training. I was doing a lot of thick grip work and explosive lifting with Olympic bar sized handles. My regular 2 hand deadlift, clean grip pulls and trap bar deadlifting were all at least a hundred pounds over that record with training weights, so I knew it had to be a hand, wrist or forearm issue. I then looked up similar lifts in the USAWA Rule Book. I had never done any finger lifting, but many of the old time strongmen did.

    I simply added finger lifting to the end of my regular workouts, but I didn't go for max weight. The theory was that I had to build up the strength of a lot of very small muscles, ligaments and tendons. I would do only 1 set per finger or group of fingers, as I decided to lift with the ring finger and pinky finger as a single unit, because of the tendon and bone configuration in the hand. I used the exact body position and range of motion for the One Hand Barbell Deadlift. Equipment was simply the Finger Ring Weight Handle with the Olympic Loading Pin I sell.

    Finger Lift Grip Positions

    I soon found that there were essentially three different grip positions. I only did the finger lifting every other workout, but switched grips each time. The weight I used was as much as I could do during that workout for a minimum of ten reps. There was a lot of trial and error. If my limit for a particular grip and finger was only the ring, clevis and loading pin that day, so be it. Believe me, for the Open Pinky/Ring Finger position, there were days that the weight was so ridiculously light it seemed a complete waste of time, but I stuck to the program.

    3 Finger Lift Grips: Open, Hook and Lateral Pinch

    I also added the One Hand Barbell Deadlift into my routine every time I trained. I did only 2 Sets of Triples and periodized the lift with my other training, peaking a month before the contest and again on contest day. I gave myself five months to see how well I would do. It worked out so well, I still can't believe it.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Grip the Knob

    Wrist-roller-Collage
    The Knob on the Wrist Roller is Designed for Exercising the Adductor Pollicis Muscle.

    I have gotten a lot of questions about the knobs on the ends of my Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller. It's true. They are not spherical and I did that intentionally.

    First, about that weather... I know that many of you, especially in the southeast will be dealing with some pretty extreme weather today. Here in Bowling Green, OH, we broke another temperature record last night, -14 degrees! That's bad and it makes things pretty tough for shipping, painting, etc., but it just slows things down in Ohio. We have the road crews to clear things up. With patience, everything gets caught up and back to normal. If you are in Georgia, Mississippi, or any of the other southern areas being hit with snow and ice, please stay in. A crashed car or a slip and fall accident are simply not worth it. Good luck today. Now, enjoy today's Bulletin.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/atomic-athletic-firestorm-wrist-roller.html

    Curling Delivery Grip Strength

    I designed that shape for a very specific type of grip training. Try this. Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your ring finger. With your other hand, you can feel the muscle/tendon combo that draws your thumb across the palm. That muscle is called the adductor pollicis muscle. Here is your second task. Make sure to watch Curling in the Winter Olympics. As some of you know, in addition to weightlifting, I am a curler. In fact, I'm a third generation curler in my family, which I started around the same time I started strength training in Junior High. Most curlers work primarily on core strength, endurance and flexibility, but curlers tend to ignore grip strength. Because of the incredible improvements I had read about, and witnessed, in archery and firearm shooting, due to grip strength improvements, I figured the same must be true for delivering, or throwing, a curling stone.

    As it turns out, that form of grip training is very tough to do. The specific muscle, ligaments and tendons that I wanted to work don't really get hit with thick bars or grippers. I call it the knob grip. Working the adductor pollicis muscle with my wrist roller has really helped my curling delivery. I am sure the same exercise would help in baseball, hockey, golf and many other sports. Because I have received so many requests for it, I am now including a small pamphlet on that exercise with all of our Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Rollers.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • The Best Sports Drink

    bob-hoffman-blue-rock-spring-water
    Bob Hoffman's Blue Rock Mountain Spring Water

    I love coffee.

    Unfortunately, coffee is probably not the best sports drink. For that, I am going to have to defer to the mighty Bob Hoffman. He was a real visionary.

    Bob Hoffman really believed in the power of water. In fact, he believed in the value of water to such an extent that he bought a spring and started a subsidiary of York Barbell called Blue Rock Mountain Spring Water. The photo above shows one of the original glass bottles and one of the cardboard shipping boxes, from my collection.

    When I first seriously got into lifting, one of my coaches, Dave Peterson, was adamant about me getting enough water. It didn't help that the weight room at Michigan State seemed to be boiling hot, year round. Later, when I worked at York Barbell, Smitty also made sure we got plenty of water while training.

    I won't get into the technical reasons why water is so necessary, but here are a few basics. Of course, dehydration is bad, but I will assume that you already know that. Here are a few things you probably don't know. The old idea that lifters need tons of protein to make muscle, is only partially true. You also need to be able to process that protein. The metabolic processing of protein requires extra water.

    One of the many benefits of additional red meat, as a source of protein, is creatine. Creatine can help make a person stronger, particularly if they are deficient. However, the usefulness of supplemental creatine is dependent on getting enough water. In fact, it is increased cell volume that the creatine allows, which makes one stronger. I have seen it described as a matter of physics, not just biology. Without the added liquid in the diet, that volume cannot increase. Lacking water, the athlete will start getting some pretty severe muscle cramping. Because of this danger, many sports teams do not allow their athletes to take creatine as a supplement.

    The Blue Rock Mountain Spring Water company is gone, but long and the short of it is that most people need more water than they are getting and that is especially true of many athletes, who are sweating it out. There are several other issues related to water that I will get into for future BLOGs and Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletins.

    In most of the United States, we can get good clean water right from the faucet. Now, go get your water...

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    PS. My favorite commercially available water is LaCroix Sparkling Water, which was bottled right down the street from where I used to live in the Detroit area. I really like the Lime flavor and the Lemon flavor. They are all natural.

  • Before Bench Presses

    john-grimek-pullover-mb1
    John Grimek Straight Arm Pullover

    What do you bench?

    How many times have you heard that question? I hate that question. I have a torn right rotator cuff and bench presses really aggravate that injury. So, on the rare occasion that I do a bench press, I never go over 225. The amazing thing is that people THINK I can bench press a lot, because they think I look like a guy that can bench a lot.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/traditional-training-legendary-strength.html

    Here is my secret... and it is not bodybuilding, unless you are thinking of bodybuilding from 80 years ago. In fact, it wasn't until some time in the 1950s that lifters started doing flat “press-ups” on a bench. Yet, without bench presses, lifters had huge shoulders, triceps, brachialis, and pectoral muscles. The secret is that you have to look back to the time when John Grimek built up his physique.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/gym-art-charts/classic-training-hall-wall-chart-set.html

    I am going to give you three exercises, that need to be added into your barbell routine, as well as one really great “Chest” workout.

    Straight Arm Barbell Pullovers

    The photo at the top is a photo of John Grimek, from when he worked for Mark Berry, estimated to have been taken in 1934. John is doing my favorite upper body exercise, the straight arm pullover. I did hundreds of these as a teenager, on the swim team. In fact, I did them with a Milo Barbell that looked very similar to the one Grimek used in that shot, which I think is somewhat key to that exercise. Don't worry, you don't have to buy a whole new barbell, just use smaller plates, so that the bar starts closer to the ground. Use something like 25 pound, or even 10 pound plates. It will extend your range of motion. Yes, it is harder to perform and you won't be able to use as much weight, but the benefits will be worth it with this alternate variation.

    Before Bench Presses Workout

    Stretch & Warm-up with Indian Clubs and/or Speed Bag Work
    Clean & Standing Barbell Push 5 x 5
    Clean & Front Squat 5 x 5
    Straight Arm Pullover 3 x 10
    Dumbbell (or Kettlebell) Crucifix Hold 3 x 3
    Dips 3 x 10
    Stretch

    If it is nice outside add in half a dozen 100 yard sprints. You will be shocked at how well they work in with this routine. In high school, I would do this routine in the morning and then head off to the pool for morning swim, which was only 45 minutes, but felt great.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Learning Lost Secrets

    1950's York Wrist Roller at top and Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller bottom
    1950's York Wrist Roller at top and Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller bottom

    Lost variations of exercises can be your key to success.

    Because you know the secret, I am going to let you in on this one. When I stumbled across this variation on wrist roller work, it was one of those DUH moments for me. You know what I am talking about, when you see something for the first time and say to yourself, “Duh! Why didn't I think of that?”

    This exercise does not come from an exotic locale, like the Shaolin Temple or a Kushti Wrestling school in Varanasi, but from strange and exotic 1960's New Jersey. Of course, to a kid from Michigan, it may as well have been the North Pole.

    Presented by Professor E. M. Orlick, we have “Series B: Arms Bent and Elbows Held In Against Your Sides”. Try your wrist roller work with your arms like this. “Your lower arms must be bent so that they are at right angles to your upper arms and parallel to the floor.”

    If you have one of the Firestorm Wrist Rollers we sell, it should be just long enough for you to have your arms straight out and not crowded in next to the cord in the center. If you collect wrist rollers, like I do, then you will know how this exercise is virtually impossible to do with the little short red wrist roller that York sold many years ago. See the comparison photo above. You simply don't get anything close to a full range of motion in the palms up, bent arm position with a short wrist roller. Don't get me wrong, you can do some other interesting things with some of the short wrist rollers, but this is not one of them.

    Once you have mastered this movement with a light weight, cut your 10 reps down to 5 reps and really increase the weight. With your arms in this position, you should be able to do a lot more weight than with the straight arm, palms down position. In addition to pyramiding the weight, I like to do a set/rep variation in this position that goes from very light weight for 20 reps to very heavy weight where 5 reps may be impossible, then back again, repeating several times.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/atomic-athletic-firestorm-wrist-roller.html

    You may also want to check out the Pot Lifting Arts kit:

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/pot-lifting-arts-kit-firestorm-wrist-roller-loading-pin-book-dvd.html

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Weight Loss: What do I do?

    I have this regular customer who is fat.  Seriously, his doctor told him he has to lose weight and get his blood sugar level down or he is going to become diabetic.  This is brass tacks stuff.  He is at least a 100 pounds over weight.  So, what does he ask me?  "Give me one thing to do to attack this problem, other than just lifting and eating less, because I know it's more than that."

    I told him to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from his diet.  I told him he couldn't do it, but if he genuinely did, that would be a really, really great first step.  I hope he does it.

    He's already doing a training routine based on my Traditional Training Legendary Strength and the tips in the Garage Gym Guide, but that is just activity level stuff.  I wish him the best.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Garage Gym Accessory Wall

    power-shack-grip-board
    Carmen Caputo's Grip & Accessory Board

    Carmen Caputo's Power Shack Gym really is one of the best garage gyms out there. This is the second Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin based on his place. It is a true unattached pole barn type 2-car + size garage, that is exclusively a gym. Carmen and his buddies completely finished it off, with heat. I can really appreciate that right now, as it's -5 F as I write this.

    The photo shows The Power Shack accessory corner, highlighted by the peg board. Hanging on the bottom are real antique Whitely spring type strand pulling units, with all the original Whitely accessory parts. He has them set up with 1-5 springs, just like a pro-style dumbbell or kettlebell rack. You also see an original cloth webbing York head harness and York wrist roller, together with some home made loading pins.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/atomic-athletic-firestorm-wrist-roller.html

    Carmen and I had a great talk about the wrist rollers. We are both really into the wrist roller movement and concept. Carmen actually has two of those originals, but he stripped the paint off the one shown in the picture and poly coated it. I also have an original red painted one that I will show in a wrist roller article that is coming down the pike. Carmen's wrist roller advice is to, “...put a longer rope on your wrist roller, when it comes time to replace it. If you have a longer rope, you will find a way to use it. It's the basic simple details that the old strength guys were into, and that made all the difference. The longer rope is murder on your hands. Once you unroll it, you have to roll it back up before you can put it away.”

    In the floor rack you can see a variety of bars. He has an original Gaspari Bar, a 6 foot standard barbell, a 6 foot Olympic bar, a regular Olympic curl bar, an Olympic Super Curl Bar and an Olympic Hammer Curl Bar. He also has quite a pile of standard size plates.

    Rounding out the collection is a Power Twister, an Iron Man Super Gripper and a variety of rubber rings. The left wall also shows his framed original York Powerlifting Chart #2 (Bench Press). The other wall has his lat machine attachments (like the triceps rope), with the lat machine in the foreground. That padding is not the original naugahyde, but that cool late-60s glitter black that you may have seen on boat or motorcycle seats. He has re-upholstered everything in to match.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    'Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Soaked My Hat

    Yep. I soaked my fleece hat in sweat. I was shoveling. It was disgusting, but

    Atomic Athletic Fleece Hat
    Atomic Athletic Fleece Hat

    kept my head warm anyway.

    Here's my rant. The county finally lifted the Level 3 Snow Emergency, so we can drive without getting a ticket. Sure, it was record snow, 22 inches, and record cold. I don't care. Forty five minutes north of us, in Michigan, it's not a problem.

    The Good Side: Hey, I got in some great lifting in the home gym and moved tons of snow for the cardio. As I read the news, it looks like I am far from the only one to be in this situation. CNN reported that Atlanta had a temperature of 26 degrees, while Anchorage, AK was at 34. Crazy. Here, we were down to -14, so today's 18 degrees felt like a heat wave. I heard the wind chill got down to less than -40. Nasty. This morning, our packing tape was shattering in the warehouse. You read it here first. Packing tape shatters if it gets too cold. So we brought all the tape in, turned on electric heaters and got a few things taken care of. Tomorrow will be a better day.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/t-shirts-hats-etc/fleece-hat-atomic-athletic.html

    Tonight's Workout (Home Gym)
    Stretch
    Padlock Clean & Press 3 x 10
    Competition Style Dumbbell Swing 3 x 3
    Padlock Swings 5 x 10
    Stretch
    Sleep

    Check out the Atomic Athletic Video BLOG with the Competition Style One Hand Dumbbell Swing here: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/blog/sample-page/

    Keeping it basic. I did a lot of snow blower work this morning and shoveling out the car. I had the good old reliable pick-up truck done yesterday morning. Good old GM knows how to make a truck that starts right up in the cold... knock on wood.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

  • Garage Gym Leg Extensions & Leg Curls

    York-flex-bench-iron-boots-leg-extension
    Roger LaPointe performing Iron Boot Leg Extensions on a York Flex Bench

    Some people look for reasons not to go into the gym.  They find reasons to call an exercise dangerous.  When I first got into the fitness industry, it was Olympic weightlifting, followed by Behind the Neck Presses.  Now the pendulum has swung the other way.  For several years it has been leg extensions getting a bad rap.  Oh well.  I still do them.

    Let's face it, I love leg work.  It's simple and basic.  One exercise that I feel is very important, if you want strong, powerful legs, is the humble leg extension.  If you can find a machine that fits you, machines can be fine.  I have one that I love, but most of them don't fit me.  What does fit are my Iron Boots.  There are a million exercises that I can do with Iron Boots.  They really are dumbbells for the feet.  Unfortunately, to get some exercises right, you actually need some extra equipment, like a bench or seat of some sort.

    Garage gym guys take note.  The York Barbell Flex bench is a great one to

    Roger LaPointe doing Leg Curls with Iron Boots on a York Barbell Flex Bench
    Iron Boot Leg Curl on York Barbell Flex Bench

    pair up with Iron Boots.  Amazingly, it was sitting right in front of me for about fifteen years, since I worked at York.  They even used me as a "short, but real lifter" model for that piece, when it was originally being designed.  The current version has a few more positions than it used to have.  The one you need for BOTH Iron Boot Leg Extensions and Iron Boot Leg Curls is that butt pad adjustment.  That pad also has a wide, rolled edge.  That is very important for both exercises.

    Check out these Leg Extension and Leg Curl photos.  You don't need tons of weight, but getting the right angles and support IS KEY.  That York Barbell Flex Bench paired up with Iron Boots is an economical, efficient tool for your garage gym.  Like or hate Leg Extensions they work.  This pairing will remove two more excuses.

    All the best,

    Roger LaPointe

    "Today is a good day to lift."

  • Masters Dumbbell Techniques II

    Growing up, I had the concept of stretching drummed into my head with every sport I did. I still believe it's a good idea, but not the way it was promoted thirty years ago.

    Olympic dumbbell clean & jerk
    Olympic dumbbell clean & jerk

    Dumbbells are the perfect tool for the type of stretching I now prefer, especially for ballistic movements. As a Master's Age lifter, otherwise known as an old guy lifter, I have found this method to be essential, if I don't want ruin my next workout. I call these Dumbbell Flex Reps. I first learned this technique as a part of my lower body training, working with Fred Lowe, but I have really expanded it. I now do some sort of Flex Rep training with every workout.

    I don't have time for marathon training sessions. Instead of doing endless stretching, like some aging athletes, I abbreviated my warm-up period, with actual training. As regular readers know, for almost seven years I have used the Indian Clubs at the beginning of every workout, instead of much of the early stretching I used to do. I may do more Indian Club work in the workout, but I always to some at the beginning. The Flex Reps have eliminated most of the rest of my stretching, as well as some of the explosive movement warm-up sets.

    This is really a simple method. It is based on using a full range of motion in the movement, so barbells and kettlebells are not your best tool for the job. In many exercises, barbells and kettlebells cut the actual range of motion or leverage force factor, compared to a dumbbell. You will need to have a variety of dumbbells. They do not need to be huge, as I never use more than 60% of my 1 rep max in a related lift. In fact, depending on the movement, I may only use 30-40%. If you have an entire rack of dumbbells, good for you. I generally prefer adjustable dumbbells, but I do have a job specific selection. A nice pair of rotating Olympic Dumbbells and a couple pair of adjustable standard size dumbbells will do the job. However, I am not a fan of the Standard Spin-Lock Dumbbell Bars with the threaded rod. The collars always come loose, resulting in floppy plates. Always make sure to use decent collars on dumbbells.

    http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/dumbbells/plate-loadable-dumbbells/adjustable-olympic-dumbbell-handle.html

    This is what you do. As you move through the range of motion for that movement, you continuously flex. Sounds simple. Now try it.

    As an example of actual training, think of the overhead barbell squat, which has a snatch grip. I used to do a ton of work stretching with a broom stick, easily taking up 5-7 minutes. Today, I will do a variety of dumbbell curls Flex Repped, and maybe 30 seconds with the broom stick. It also allows me to skip some of the “warm-up” sets and move into the heavier weight faster. I kill two birds with one stone. I am getting in some biceps training and prepping for the compound movement.

    When I am getting ready to do one hand movements, like a one hand dumbbell swing or one hand dumbbell snatch, I do a similar routine for my shoulders and forearms. My preferred dumbbell of those small muscles is a rotating Olympic Dumbbell Handle. Nobody doubts using one for the one hand dumbbell snatch, for the same reason you use it for the shoulder and forearm warm-ups. You do not want jerkiness. The entire Flex Rep needs to be smooth.

    Try it for yourself. I wish I had been doing this method when I was in my twenties, because half a lifetime later, it is fantastic.

    All the best,
    Roger LaPointe
    “Today is a good day to lift.”

    PS Don't forget that today is the last day for the FREE Banner on orders over $250. Refer to your “Elves in the Warehouse” Bulletin for details.

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